Nutrition Before During and After Cancer

Information on nutritional needs for cancer patients

You May not Know


You already know that veggies, fruits and other plant foods rich in vitamins and minerals are a key part of a cancer-preventive diet. But there are lots of other less familiar substances that help ward off cancer that you may not know.


Quercetin is a member of a large group of phytochemicals called flavonoids. It can help prevent or reduce chronic inflammation, a condition linked to increased cancer risk. Quercetin can also act as an antioxidant, helping to keep a balance between antioxidants and free radicals in our body – important for good health and lower cancer risk.

Quercetin in Foods

You can get quercetin from apples, tea, onions, and other vegetables. Apple peels contain most of that fruit’s quercetin, so don’t throw away that peel.


Ascorbic Acid

Ascorbic acid is another name for vitamin C. It protects our DNA from damage by trapping free radicals and keeping cancer-causing substances from forming. It also helps other compounds maintain their antioxidant power.

Ascorbic Acid in Food

Beyond oranges and grapefruit, foods rich in vitamin C include red and green bell peppers, kiwi, broccoli, strawberries, cabbage and cauliflower.



Allicin is responsible for the pungent odor and flavor of garlic. Allicin and related compounds in garlic keep cell growth in check and help maintain healthy cell turnover. In laboratory studies, these components have shown the ability to slow or stop the growth of tumors in prostate, bladder, colon and stomach tissue.

Allicin in Food

Garlic contains allicin and related substances. Be sure to chop, slice or mince garlic 10 minutes before cooking to allow the enzymes in garlic to help create the active allicin compound.



Sulforaphane comes from the breakdown of glucosinolates which are sulfur containing compounds found in cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli. Sulforaphane may help prevent cancer by helping the body get rid of carcinogens and turning on genes to suppress tumors, slowing cancer growth.

Sulforaphane in Food

While broccoli is probably the best known cruciferous vegetable, others like brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale also contain glucosinolates that are being studied for their role in cancer prevention.

cruciferous vegetable


Phylloquinone and menaquinones are two forms of vitamin K. Research is underway looking at the potential for menaquinones to inhibit growth of certain cancers. Vitamin K is best known for its role in helping blood clotting. It is also involved in building bones and may help prevent the calcification (hardening) of blood vessels, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Phylloquinone and Menaquinones in Food

Phylloquinone is found in leafy green vegetables such as kale and swiss chard as well as cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. Vitamin K is fat soluble so cooking these veggies in a little oil will help with absorption. Menaquinones are found in animal products like meat, eggs, and cheese. They are also found in fermented foods and made by our gut bacteria.




Story of Coffee

Coffee alternately touted as medicinal and denounced as health destroying over the centuries, has become one of the most popular drinks in the world today. The Boston Tea Party turned coffee into a patriotic drink in colonial America. In 1952 an ad campaign promoted the idea of a coffee break, and it quickly became a daily ritual in workplaces, homes and churches in the United States.

Coffee is slightly acidic pH 5.0–5.1 and can have a stimulating effect on humans because of its caffeine content. Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world. It can be prepared and presented in a variety of ways. The effect of coffee on human health has been a subject of many studies; however, results have varied in terms of coffee’s relative benefit. The majority of recent research suggests that moderate coffee consumption is benign or mildly beneficial in healthy adults.

What you get in your cup of coffee varies with how the beans are grown and how you prepare it. Overall, coffee is a good source of the B vitamin riboflavin, and is also a concentrated source of antioxidant phytochemicals.


  • Chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant compound that is the major phenol in coffee.
  • Quinic acid, a phytochemical contributes to the acidic taste of coffee.
  • Cafestol and kahweol, compounds are extracted from the beans’ oil during brewing.
  • Unfiltered coffee, such as French press or boiled coffee contains these compounds.
  • Caffeine, a naturally occurring stimulant that affects the central nervous system N methylpyridinium (NMB), created by roasting, may make the antioxidants more potent.
  • Chlorogenic acid may be slightly lower in decaf coffee according to limited research, but it still contains plenty of phytochemicals.
  • Lab studies suggest that instant coffee may be lower in antioxidant potency than brewed coffee, though more research is needed.